Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p., [155] leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.

William Finley Hall

WILLIAM FINLEY HALL. Few families have done more for themselves and for the community at large in Pawnee County during the past thirty-two years than the Halls, who came here in March, 1886. The family was headed by William Finley Hall, who still keeps his home in Pleasant Ridge Township and is now enjoying the quiet evening of life, contented, prosperous, surrounded by what he and his children have achieved and with a record that can be only gratifying.

Mr. Hall is a native of Illinois and was born at Dry Point in Shelby County August 14, 1839. When he came to Western Kansas he had a family of children, several of whom were nearly grown, and they were important factors in making the ample prosperity of the family. Mr. Hall is of old American ancestry. His lineage goes back to Robert Hall, his great-grandfather.

Robert Hall had set out upon the voyage of life when a small child, and so far as the record is traced he was unable to claim a family name or lineage. At the time he first comes into notice he was working as a waiter on an Atlantic sailing vessel. When he left the boat on his last trip at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he decided to abandon the ocean and make America his home. In order to have a name he took the name that appeared on his boat, Captain Robert Hall, and as such he established this Hall family. He went south into Chatham County, North Carolina, where he married Mary Kyles. One of their several children was Samuel Hall, grandfather of Mr. Hall of Pawnee County.

Samuel Hall was a native of North Carolina, and was an early settler in Southern Illinois. He spent his active career as a farmer. He was a strong Methodist and served as a local preacher. One day he put his hat on his head, and was unaware of the fact that a wasp had found lodgment therein. The wasp stung him and from the result of this injury he died. Samuel Hall married Nancy Steele, and both are buried in the Ridge Camp Cemetery of Shelby County, Illinois. Their children were: Jehu; John P.; Thomas D.; Samuel; Serena, who married John Beck; Mary, who married James Beck; William, who married Martha Perryman; Nancy, who married J. L. Perkins; and Susan, whose first husband was Ned Woolen. All of them reared families except Nancy.

John P. Hall, father of William F. Hall, was born in Chatham County, North Carolina, and moved with his parents to Hopkinsville, Kentucky, three years later to St. Clair County, Illinois, and from there to Shelby County, where he grew to manhood, married and reared his family. He was a pioneer in Shelby County, and an active farmer. He served as a soldier in the Black Hawk Indian war of 1812, and was in the same regiment with Abraham Lincoln and came to know that greatest American. In later life he moved to Grundy County, Missouri, and died near Spickardsville. His wife, Louise Hall, died in April, 1871, at the age of fifty-seven. His death occurred in 1885, at seventy-eight. Both are buried in the old Bethel church-yard at Spickardsville. Their children were: Angeline, who married John A. Wakefield, who was killed as a Union soldier; Mary A., who married Milton Puckett; Serena, the wife of James Plowman; William F.; James M. of Browning, Missouri; Louisa, who died as Mrs. John H. Farley; Jeanie, who married Jesse Gilson and lives in Colorado; and George P., of Central Point, Oregon.

William F. Hall spent his youth in one of the rural districts of Illinois. Most of his education came by attending subscription schools. He was engaged in farming on the home place when the Civil war broke out. Hiring a man to take his place in the fields, he enlisted on his birthday, August 14, 1862, in Company G of the One Hundred and Fifteenth Illinois Infantry. His captain was John W. Dove and his colonel was Jesse H. Moore, a Methodist minister. The regiment drilled at Camp Butler and went to the front at Covington, Kentucky. Its first fight was Chickamauga, but Mr. Hall himself was not in that battle. He first was under fire at Resaca during the Atlanta campaign. Colonel Moore's regiment was soon placed on patrol duty and remained about Resaca guarding the roads until after the fall of Atlanta. It then went back into Tennessee with the troops following Hood and his Confederate army and the regiment saw active service in the Battle of Nashville, which broke up Hood's army. That was the last regular engagement of the regiment. They were after that in camp at Huntsville, Alabama, until the spring of 1865, when ordered to Greenville, Tennessee, and were there when Lee surrendered. The regiment was then sent to Nashville, was discharged near there June 11, 1865, and the soldiers were mustered out at Camp Butler, Illinois, the same month. Mr. Hall went through the war as a private soldier, and though he saw come strenuous service he had neither wounds nor periods of imprisonment. Since the war he has come into personal contact with few members of his old regiment. He knows of them chiefly through the report of the annual regimental meetings at Springfield. In Kansas he served as post commander of Garfield Grand Army of the Republic, and when it disbanded he became a member of B. F. Larned Post No. 8.

After the war Mr. Hall became an Illinois farmer, but left that state in the fall of 1870 and located in Gruady County, Missouri. Farming was his vocation in Missouri and he put in fifteen years at it and by his work was able to provide for his family. Then, in 1885, he made the journey to Kansas by wagon and team and after prospecting the eastern portion of the state as far south as Sumner County he remained in Franklin County long enough to put in one crop. When it was harvested and sold he and his family again took up the home search and finally came out to Pawnee County on the frontier and in the region of cheap lands.

As his children were so instrumental in the Western Kansas experience, some reference should be made here to his marriage. Mr. Hall was married March 25, 1866, at Dry Point, Illinois, to Miss Mahala A. Warner, Mrs. Hall was born in Fairfield County, Ohio, in the Town of Amanda, April 24, 1847, a daughter of Isaac and Elizabeth (Kocher) Warner, Isaac Warner was born about 1824 near Reading, Pennsylvania, and died on his farm in Shelby County, Illinois, April 21, 1889. He spent most of his active career as a farmer. His wife was born in Pennsylvania about 1822, of German parentage, and died when about seventy years of age. The Warner children were: Jerome, of Shelbyville, Illinois; Mrs. Hall; Ellen, now Mrs. William Valentine, of Cowden, Illinois; William, who died in Illinois, leaving two children; Thomas, who died in youth; and Catherine, the wife of Daniel Plowman, living at New Douglas, Illinois.

The children of Mr. and Mrs. Hall are: Orabel, who married Allen Duncan, of Alden, Kansas, and has a large family of children named Laura, George, Rachel, Mary, Paul, Ivy, Dorothea and Robert. Carrie, the second child, was for many years a successful teacher in Pawnee County, being county superintendent six years, and is now the wife of F. M. Crabb, living at North Yakima, Washington. Miss Ella is still with the family circle. Beverly, a farmer near the old home, married Ida Jones and has children named Carrie, Buford, Frances, Margaret, Albert and John. M. Byron, a farmer in Pawnee County, married Myrtle Shirley, of Paris, Arkansas, and has a daughter Irene. The three younger children, all at home and unmarried, are Alvin, Warner and Sadie.

When the Hall family arrived in Pawnee County in March, 1886, they possessed two teams. They located in the community where Mr. Hall has lived ever since. For the first ten years he was a tenant farmer more or less. The tract of land upon which he now lives he bought for $1,000. It was bought on time, and he met the payments without difficulty from the proceeds of the family labor. In 1886 one of the best crops of corn grew for him that he has ever raised. It was that crop which as much as anything else enabled the family to stay with the country through several less successful years. Mr. Hall when he came to Western Kansas was in the condition of so many men with a family, had managed to get along but had no surplus capital, and everyone had to work for immediate necessities. His two older daughters soon found positions as school teachers and contributed their salaries to the family living. It was in 1896 that Miss Carrie was elected county superintendent of schools and served two terms.

One fact concerning the Hall family history in Pawnee County is deserving of mention. Most of the early families had at some time or other to leave their homes and seek employment elsewhere. But the members of the Hall household never had to separate, though they earned their living by divers occupations. They lived within their income, practiced strict economy, and in that way survived the periods of intermittent adversity. The first season Mr. Hall was in Pawnee County he traded a horse for five cows and traded another horse of the team for meat and bread. The cows furnished a basis of a diet of milk and mush and the family larder was never without meat and bread.

The first home of the Halls in Pawnee County was a small frame house with sod kitchen, four rooms in all. That served them for nineteen years with slight changes and improvements. They then moved to the present farm, which has been improved with the modest home Mr. Hall still occupies. Several years after he came he made his first purchase of a quarter section. The purchase was made from Mr. Moffett, the well known Garfield banker. Mr. Moffett promised Mr. Hall this tract if the latter would bring him $100 by a certain hour on a certain day. Mr. Hall was in a low state financially at the time, but he needed the land and he made a determined effort to secure it. Others were seeking the same tract, but it was especially valuable to Mr. Hall because it lay near the home. His sons were then working in the harvest fields pitching wheat for $1 a day and from their wages he raised the $100 necessary to make the initial payment. The sons paid out the balance of the $400 on that quarter and have farmed it ever since. There has rarely been a year when the land has not made more money for them than its original cost.

For the next quarter section the family paid $1,050. A few years later the four sons bought a half section lying against the original homestead at $10 an acre. This too they paid out on easily from wheat crops. For the next quarter the Hall family paid $40 an acre. Through their combined efforts the Halls have erected three sets of improvements in their immediate neighborhood. Furthermore, 830 acres have been broken out and brought under cultivation by members of the household. The wheat record of the family is above twenty bushels to the acre. This was raised on over 700 acres in wheat. In 1914 about 18,000 bushels were threshed from their land. As has been the practice of other farmers in this section of Kansas, Mr. Hall has pinned his faith to wheat and credits his prosperity to that source. In 1915 came his best corn crop. More than 4,000 bushels were gathered from 100 acres of land. A considerable part of this big yield furnished seed for the 1917 planting.

All the old timers in Western Kansas are familiar with the solution of the fuel problem. This was solved by gathering up the "prairie chips" and the Halls followed the custom of every one else. This practice recalls some verse which is reminiscent of that custom and which should not be forgotten by succeeding generations:


Oh, yes, we live out in Kansas,
     And we're happy, don't you see?
Just because we love the sunshine
     And the prairie wide and free.
And the wintry wind so piercing
     Shall not harm us, let me say,
For we build a fire to warm us
     With the chip that's old and gray.

Oh our claim is high and level,
     And we took it, don't you see?
Just because our dear old uncle
     Said he'd deed it to us free.
If we'd only live upon it;
     So I think we'll surely stay
Even though our only fuel
     Be the chip that's old and gray.

And our house is just a sod house,
     But it's plastered, don't you know?
And its walls are white and spotless
     As the freshly fallen snow;
And it's very snug and homelike
     Even on a winter's day
When we build a fire to warm us
     With the chip that's old and gray.

Yes, our clothes are getting rusty,
     For we've worn them, don't you see:
Ever since the hard times struck us
     And they're threadbare at the knee.
But we'll never mind the patches,
     On a cold and stormy day,
When we build a fire to warm us
     With the chip that's old and gray.

Though our bill of fare be scanty,
     For the 'hoppers left the grass
To eat up our beans and cabbage
     And the other garden "sass,"
Yet we are quite contented,
     We've no doctor's bills to pay,
And our fuel—oh, it's ever
     Just the chip that's old and gray.


When the Hall family came to Pawnee County the younger children still had their educations to finish. The schoolhouse which they attended was three miles away, and most of the time they made the trip on foot. The new district No. 66 has been established in recent years. Mr. Hall was a member of the board of the old district No. 38 for many years. He has also served two terms as township trustee, and has given a good citizen's participation in local affairs. He was a republican until the Farmers Alliance split the party in Kansas and he became an active Alliance man, later a populist and is now a democrat. He frequently attended county conventions as a delegate. The Halls are all Methodists and in pioneer times meetings were held at the schoolhouses. Mr. Hall is affiliated with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, is also a Mason, and he and several of his family are members of the Rebekahs. His lifetime of experience has meant much not only to his immediate family circle but to others in the community and the experience will also be read with interest by coming generations who will live to enjoy what he and other pioneers established on the desolate prairies of Kansas thirty five or more years ago.

Pages 2350-2352.